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Assassin's Creed Ideas: World War One

The First World War started with an assassination. It only makes sense for an Assassin's Creed game to take place at that time!

Welcome back to the weekly Assassin's Creed Ideas column! Every Tuesday we talk about another possible setting that the critically acclaimed series could delve into. Be sure to catch up if you missed last week's article on Ancient Egypt

This week's topic: World War One or the Great War

Traditionally the Assassin's Creed series deals with two timelines in each of its games: past and present. There is often a modern day person using an "Animus" to relive the memories of their ancestors through accessing their DNA. In the original trilogy, Desmond Miles, who was the modern day hero, actually became an assassin himself. 

There are only a couple of problems that could arise with an Assassin's game set so near to the present:

  • It might not fit with the overarching story of the series. The Animus may not allow memory travel to a time frame so close to the present.
  • Modern weaponry was used in the Great War. Modern weaponry would put an assassin at a severe disadvantage, and the series isn't about to turn into a shooter.
  • An Easter egg found in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag presented all of Ubisoft's future Assassin's possibilities at the time. What it also revealed was the fact that Ubisoft in no way wants to add the ability to drive in the "Animus." In other words, we won't be steering any tanks or dogfighting the Red Baron.

The Red Baron's Bi-plane

For the sake of this article's continuance, let's step away from the possible setbacks, talk about what actually happened during this time in history and how an Assassin's Creed game could become a part of it.

The Birth of World War One

Although it was one of the most tragic times in world history, the Great War is all but forgotten in contrast to the Holocaust and battles of the Second World War. In case you didn't take history class in school, or maybe you did and just didn't go, I'll shortly recap what happened. 

Straight from the get-go, Ubisoft would be able to relate the events of World War One to an Assassin's game. The entire war happened because of a single assassination.

On June 28, 1914 a group of six assassins (five Serbians and one Bosniak) led by Black Hand member Danilo Ilić succeeded in taking the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The goal of this assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary's South Slav provinces (shown in blue in the image below) so that they could become part of a Yugoslavia. 

South Slav provinces (Yugoslavia)

This action led to political outrage, as assassinations tend to do, and an ultimatum was sent to the Kingdom of Serbia. When the Serbs rejected some of the terms, ta-da! World War One.

Where does Assassin's Creed fit in?

I hope I'm not the only one that can see the obvious twist that Ubisoft could put on Ferdinand's assassination. The Black Hand could be a subset of the Templar Order, or the Templar Order itself, simply taking on a fresh new name.

Haytham Kenway Assassin's Creed III (3)

We've seen through the eyes of Haytham Kenway in Assassin's Creed III that the Templars perform almost identically to the Assassins. Perhaps it was the Templars that issued the assassination with a larger agenda at hand. Maybe they were framing the Assassins or someone within their ranks? 

Could the World War have been the result they were looking for? They could be trying to root out the base of the Assassins by leading the world's armies through the general location. Another possible option is that the Templars needed the world focused on a fixed point so they could stealthily operate outside of it. 

This is yet another time frame where opportunities are positively endless. Four whole years the Great War spanned. That gives the writers plenty of time to create a mystery for players, allow a generous helping of open world, trench warfare assassinating, and conclude the story. 

What to Expect

Depending on the route Ubisoft could take with this subject, expectations would be completely up in the air. We would most likely see the traditional World War template of Axis versus Allies with Assassins taking one side and Templars the other.

World War One Machine Gun

Automatic weapons are still less popular than semi-auto rifles in this period, so there wouldn't be too many guards shooting 900 bullets-per-second at players, however, the existence of more powerful ranged weapons would make stealth an even larger part of the game than it has been before. 

Trench warfare would be a staple of the game. In the off-chance that a soldier would cross into an enemy trench in war, hand-to-hand or other melee combat would be used to dispatch anyone sharing that quarter of the trench. It was much too cramped to use ranged weapons, making running through the trenches ideal for an assassin.

Atop all of this, a World War One Assassin's Creed could set the stage for a new "series" of Creed games à la Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood, Revelations, etc. Returning from war, the United States launched into the "Roaring Twenties" where, due to prohibition, gangsters like Al Capone ruled entire cities. Soon after, the Second World War began with the uprising of Nazi Germany. But such are topics for future Assassin's Creed Ideas columns.

The Roaring Twenties 1920 

What do you think about an Assassin's Creed game set in World War One? Do you know of any issues that would arise that I missed? Perhaps you have an idea for how the story would go? Let me know in the comments section down below.

Remember to check out the first Assassin's Creed Ideas article on Ancient Egypt if you missed it, and to follow BlackTideTV on GameSkinny for weekly editions of this very series! See you next Tuesday.

Published Feb. 9th 2016

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